Silver Spring MS-13 Affiliate Receives 25-Year Sentence for Racketeering, Murder Charges

23-year-old El Salvadoran national Oscar Efrain Zavala Urrea was sentenced this week to 25 years in federal prison for his involvement in a racketeering conspiracy, including a murder, related to his activities as a member of the MS-13 gang.

The sentencing, imposed by Chief U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar, was announced Tuesday by U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron, Acting Special Agent in Charge R. Joseph Rothrock of the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office, Special Agent in Charge James C. Harris of Homeland Security Investigations Baltimore, Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones, and Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy.

Zavala Urrea was additionally ordered to serve five years of supervised release following the completion of his 25-year incarceration sentence.

Court documents reveal that La Mara Salvatrucha, known as “MS-13,” is an international criminal organization primarily composed of immigrants or descendants of immigrants from El Salvador. MS-13 members operate in Maryland, including Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, and Frederick County, as well as throughout the United States.

Within Maryland and elsewhere, MS-13 is organized into smaller groups called “cliques” that operate in specific cities or regions. MS-13 members are required to commit acts of violence to maintain membership, enforce discipline within the gang, and target rival gangs. One of the principal rules of MS-13 is that members must attack and kill rivals, known as “chavalas,” whenever possible. Engaging in criminal activities, particularly violent acts directed against rival gangs or as instructed by gang leadership, increases a member’s respect within the gang, potentially leading to promotion to a leadership position.

According to the plea agreement, Zavala Urrea was a member or associate of the MS-13 Fulton Locos Salvatruchas (“FLS“) clique from at least January 2020. He agreed with other MS-13 members to participate in the gang’s affairs through a pattern of racketeering activities, including murder, conspiracy to commit murder, extortion, and drug distribution.

In the spring of 2020, an MS-13 member, who was a former roommate of Victim 20, was assaulted by Victim 20 and others because they believed the MS-13 member had stolen property from Victim 20. After learning of the assault, MS-13 members decided to retaliate against Victim 20 to maintain the gang’s standing. They also believed that Victim 20 was associated with the rival 18th Street gang, which provided another reason to kill him.

Over several weeks, Zavala Urrea and other MS-13 members met to plan the murder of Victim 20. They discussed each participant’s role and conducted surveillance to determine when Victim 20 left the apartment and obtained guns for the murder. On the night of May 25, 2020, Zavala Urrea and other gang members gathered in a park in Silver Spring, where Zavala Urrea met with each member to discuss the plan to murder Victim 20 the next morning.

Court documents state that on May 26, 2020, at approximately 7:05 a.m., two FLS MS-13 gang members approached Victim 20 as he left his apartment in Silver Spring and repeatedly fired handguns at him, hitting him eight times. Victim 20 died as a result of being shot.

Following the murder, Zavala Urrea and a co-conspirator traveled to Annapolis, where they met a third MS-13 gang member. Zavala Urrea and the co-conspirator changed their clothes and disposed of the old ones. They gave the third gang member a backpack containing two firearms for safekeeping. A few days later, Maryland State Police stopped the third gang member, who had the backpack with the two firearms.

Zavala Urrea admitted to participating in the sale of marijuana and the collection of extortion money from brothels and other businesses, providing the proceeds to gang leadership to assist the gang in raising money.

Anyone with information about MS-13 is encouraged to provide their tips to the FBI at (866) 787-6713.

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